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Alaska students’ pathways from high school to postsecondary education and employment

by Havala Hanson and Ashley Pierson

Approximately 10,000 students leave Alaska high schools each year, with or without a diploma. In pursuit of their career and life goals, they chart courses across college enrollment, employment, and other opportunities. Until recently, policymakers and educators had little information about the pathways students took into their early careers. To obtain this information, Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest examined data through 2012 from multiple national and state education and labor sources to discern the pathways of 40,000 students who left public high schools in Alaska from 2004/05 to 2007/08. Of this sample 67 percent of students graduated from high school and 33 percent did not. The study also followed Alaska students who graduated in 2004/05 and 2005/06 in their first six years after high school to describe the pathways they took to their early careers. The following are among the key findings, which are presented in this report: (1) Most Alaska students either enrolled in college or started working in the state right after high school; (2) Students followed more than 3,000 unique postsecondary pathways, which often included attending college, working in Alaska, or both; and (3) Students who earned a college degree tended to have higher rates of early-career employment and higher wages than students who did not earn a degree. The following are appended: (1) Data sources and methods; and (2) Detailed results.

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